cover image A Distinct and Alien Race: The Untold Story of Franco-Americans

A Distinct and Alien Race: The Untold Story of Franco-Americans

David Vermette. Baraka, $29.95 (394p) ISBN 978-1-7718-6149-6

Vermette provides general readers with a detailed history of Quebecois immigrants in New England. He divides his book into four sections: how the French (called Canadiens) arrived in New England, what economic and cultural contributions they made, how Anglo-Americans viewed the French presence, and why said presence eventually diminished. Most Canadien immigrants came to New England between 1840 and 1930, especially during the midcentury peak of the textile industry (fueled by slave-harvested Southern cotton). By the close of the American Civil War in 1865, Canadiens were New England’s dominant textile laborers. In echoes of contemporary American immigration debates, the French presence drew a backlash from Protestant Americans, who deemed the Catholic French an “alien” race; eugenicists, anti-Papist conspiracy theorists, and the Ku Klux Klan all scorned Canadien immigrants. The French presence declined along with New England’s textiles, but they left an important mark on the region’s history. Readers interested in Canadian and American immigration history will appreciate the depth of Vermette’s research and the fascinating story he tells. (Sept.)